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Environment ministers must deal with landfill gas danger.

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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water Friday, 7 November 2008 Environment Ministers Must Deal with Landfill Gas Danger Today’s meeting of Federal and State Environment Ministers in Adelaide must agree to a national strategy to deal with the potential ticking time-bomb of dangerous landfills. In September, hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate a Melbourne housing estate after high levels of methane gas were detected coming from a nearby landfill at Cranbourne. There are an estimated 500 active landfills and 1000 more dormant sites around Australia - many of them near houses - posing a potential threat to literally thousands of families. That’s why today’s meeting of environment ministers must support a national safety audit of landfill sites and develop a consistent approach to dealing with landfill gas emissions. Families shouldn’t have to lie awake at night worrying about the release of dangerous gases from nearby landfills. They want to know their homes are safe and that the landfills comply with proper national standards. During the recent emergency in Melbourne, I called on Peter Garrett to provide national leadership on this issue. But he dismissed it out of hand as a matter for local or state governments. It is time he backed a nationally-consistent approach to dealing with landfill gas emissions. It is time that Mr Garrett started backing home owners worried about nearby landfills. He should work with his State counterparts today to support a national audit into the safety of landfills and develop national guidelines governing future development near such sites. If Mr Garrett again refuses to act today, he is condemning thousands of householders living near landfills to continuing uncertainty and worry. Landfills account for about three per cent or 18 million tonnes of Australia’s annual emissions. The Minister should work to develop better ways to harvest these emissions as a valuable energy source, rather than allowing them to remain a risk to communities.